Craft Beer New Kids, No More:
So, after two years of struggling with supplies, regulations, licenses, and the always constant outflow of money, you finally open your brewery. Congratulations! You’re the new kid in town! If you’ve done your marketing homework correctly, local media are knocking on your door to publish your story. You’ve received constant calls and emails from beer distributors, bars, and restaurants wanting to get your beer on tap. Twitter and Instagram are abuzz with pictures and good reviews. But six months later, the spotlight fades. Now what?
In this five-part series, we ask local New York breweries what happens when the spotlight has dimmed, the fanfare has quieted, and the not-so-newsworthy hard work of running a business begins. This week, we talk to Yonkers Brewing Co. co-founder, Nick Califano.
How are your relationships with those first restaurants, bars, and distributors when you opened compared to now? Do they continue to support you?
(Nick): Bars and restaurants are very eager to be a part of “the next best thing.” Luckily, we have been embraced by our local bars and restaurants not only in the beginning, but throughout our two years in the market. It’s easy to “talk the talk,” to get on the shelves and on the taps in the beginning, but it’s that “walking the walk” that keeps you there. We work for their support every day and have produced high quality beers that people enjoy and will hopefully continue to enjoy for years to come.
How important is social media to a small brewer—being engaged with your customer? Is it possible to be too engaged?
Engagement is a top priority, and we consider it one of the perks of being a growing business. We are lucky enough to have the ability to get to know our customers via social outlets. We try and create personal connections with our consumer base so they view us as an entity beyond “just a craft brewery.” Social media allows us to get to know the consumers and allows the consumers to get to know us, so make sure you get to know us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
Events are a large part of getting your brewery recognized at the beginning. Do you continue to attend them? Does the cost factor and return-on-investment become bigger concerns now that you are more established?
Events are essential in building your brand. We take advantage of most events in our local market as well as peripheral markets we expect to break into in the near future. We have stayed on the event path as we are firm believers in the value of face-to-face marketing. It’s not too often you get to lead a customer through the intended experience of your product. The investment mounts in both time and product, but we still believe it’s all worth it.
How do you balance your current brewing situation and your future expansion needs?
What’s balance? (Laughs) It’s hard to imagine a true balance between current needs and future needs. It’s very easy to get caught up in tomorrow and forget about the sales needed today to get you there. We work hard every day to build the foundation for tomorrow. Sure, we think about our growth constantly and are always planning the next steps, but you have to stay grounded and take it one day at a time. Plus, it helps when you have a good business partner so you can split the focus!
What is the most important thing for your business right now?
Our community is the most important thing to us right now. They have been our biggest fans throughout this whole process. They see the power of a small business like ours and how it can jump start our neighborhood and our city, and they have championed the brand like no other. They are our biggest cheerleaders and without their support we would not be where we are today.
Thanks, Nick! We’re behind you 100%!
Next time, we talk to Barrage Brewing.